Is Online Poker Rigged ?:

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Is Online Poker Rigged or not ? (Part 3)

Rigged rooms, non-rigged rooms...

The iPoker Network Case

iPoker is one of the biggest - if not the biggest - international online poker network.
Regarding this network, there have been tons of similar testimonies about badbeats at the river, much more testimonies than for any other network.

What's more, many players report the same feeling: a slight delay just before the river card is displayed, followed by a bad beat. Some players suspect the slight delay is caused by the server computing the best draw to rig the game according to their plans.

Collective hallucination ? Or is there some kind of rigging algorithm behind this?

It's actually harder to tell for sure than one may think : evidence sure overlaps, but witnesses could have influenced one another by reading each other comments.
Besides, iPoker is an extremely common network, used by many, many, many players, including many many many weak players, with an extremely low level, who may prefer blaming their loss on the room's rigging, than admitting how weak they are.

Yet, there is something surprising about these testimonies implying a "slight delay before the river", especially since one can hardly find such claims for any other network.

The PlanetPoker case

The Planet Poker case is not actually a real rigging case... and it's also an old story. But for the sake of completeness, we have to talk about it.

Indeed, the PlanetPoker case proved that RNG (Random Number Generators) were'nt THAT randomt,

At that time, Planet Poker was a room willing to show how honest and reliable they were. They were also so confident about the reliability of their own system, that they decided to publish it, so that everyyone could see for themselves.

And indeed, people saw. Some computer scientists and hackers explored the RNG algorithm and found out that the total number of generated decks was way below the total number of possible decks, and that with a little work from their side, they could quite easily (well, easy for them at least) to predict which deck would be generated and thus, what would happen at the tables.

There was absolutely NO will to rig the game from the owners of PlanetPoker. Just an inefficient RNG which didn't offer true random draws.

The Absolute Poker case : The first proven 100%-rigged room !

The Absolute Poker case caused MUCH fuss online, and for a reason:
For the first time ever, an online poker room was indeed proven rigged, with a real bogus tournament..

In this special case, the draw generation algorithm isn't the problem. The rigging came right from the direction board and was more of the "human" kind.

There will soon be an article about that special case, but for now, here's an abstract:

Some insiders were able to access to the hole cards of every players at the table... Actually, one of the owner and former director of Absolute Poker could observe the table and see absolutely all the hole cards with a special, superuser account, and used it with a friend of him in a $1000 tournament. He would transmit the informations about the players card to his player friend, called Potripper, another former operative director at Absolute Poker: this allowed him to play the whole tournament without any mistake, not even the smallest. Of course, he won the tournament.
That way, the money bet by the players would entirely become the property of Absolute Poker, thanks to corruption, which allowed insiders frop AP to cheat and win.

Fortunately (or unfortunately for the cheaters), an employee from Absolute Poker finally told the one who came 2nd everything, by sending him the complete history of the tournament (including the hand histories of every single player in the tournament) instead of the hand history the player had requested. Nobody knows whether this was done on purpose or incidentally, but this led to the cat being out of the bag.

As a consequence, we all know that indeed, some rooms aren't playing fair game, some are cheating, and that's not something impossible online. Such a cheating may be extremely rare, at least we can hope so, but in the end, fact is that ugly things can happen inside online poker rooms.

Can one be sure a room is playing fair ?

Security and integrity audits.

Several poker rooms such as PokerStars insist they are being audited on a regular basis by independant companies, which is supposed to prove they are being fair and reliable, with true randomness and no cheating.

At first glance, that seems to be a proof of them being on the good side. However, when one looks further, one can see that the methods used by these "independant companies" are arranging for poker rooms, as they audit what the poker room agrees to show them. The rooms stay in control of what's audited and what's not.

What's more, such societies are dependant from the online poker rooms employing them. This means that, for example, PokerStars pays Cigital to tell whether PokerStars is alright or not : one can't imagine Cigital claiming in the wild that PokerStars is not being honest, while PokerStars is their customer. That would be shooting oneself in the foot.

Regulated Poker in several countries

In some countries, Poker rooms are doing business under state agreement and regulation. An independant commission is supposed to check the integrity of the game. Unlike a company like Cigital, such a commission is independant from the rooms it checks, since they're not doing business together.
This could - and should - allow rooms that are clearly unable to rig the games in any way.

However, the efficiency of such commissions remains to be seen. In France for example, where online poker is regulated by ARJEL (a government agency), the aforementioned ARJEL proved to be vastly unable to cope with the mission. For example, many serious bugs that could affect the reliability and honesty of the games were left after the audits, and many rooms got their agreement way before ARJEL even started to seek skilled computer scientists to check the server/client side of each room.

This is still better than nothing and can probably prevent some of the most awful cases of rigged poker, such as the Absolute Poker / Ultimate Bet case, or the Pitbull Poker case (all three cases being similar cases of "superuser accounts" allowing insiders to see the hole cards of every players).

The Real Deal Poker system

Real Deal Poker was supposed to be the perfect "anti-rigging" room. However, after a short period of test, it has been "temporarily closed" for a while and nobody knows whether it'll reopen or not.

Still, the idea behind Real Deal Poker is very interesting as far as rigging is concerned.

Indeed, Real Deal Poker uses no RNG, which means no virtual and untrustworthy algorithm that noone can check. Insteak, the room uses real cards with a card-shuffling machine, monitored 24/7 with recorded video. Decks are shuffled in advance and cards come from these decks.

This brings a whole new way of thinking online poker, with something real new and powerful against rigging : traceability!
Every shuffled deck is recorded on tape and it becomes pretty easy, in case of doubt, to just watch the video. If the game played differs from what's on tape for that deck, then the game can be cancelled and the money refunded.

This whole video watching process was being done by an independant company. As I said earlier, "independant company" doesn't mean much : As we say in France, on ne mord pas la main qui nous nourrit, or if you prefer : one doesn't bite the hand that feeds us. But the mere existence of a videocapture of the decks makes the whole process less likely of being bogus.

Besides, the company that was to make the verification was paid for each verification. And who paid? Not the room, but the player himself. The idea was that the player who was skeptical about what happened at his table would pay €50 for the independant company to review the game, and the player would get €5000 from Real Deal if they were proven faulty. While it doesn't solve everything, at least it changes the way the independant company makes money, and thus, how they relate to RDP.

There is no way to claim Rreal Deal Poker was completely 100% non-rigged, but this is the closest one could ever get. Unfortunately, it has been out of business for a long time and it is unsure whether it'll ever be back in business or not.

Random Room

William Hill is another member of the iPoker network, one of the largest (if not the largest) worldwide online poker network.
But also one we often hear about from players suspecting rigging.

Although those claims of rigging are not backed by true evidence, many players feel the same way about it and we'd advice you to be very...